Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Feeling the Bern at The Mill

December 6, 2015

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Note: On Sunday evening, December 6, Bernie lovers, music lovers, speakers and musicians gathered at The Mill in Iowa City for music and talk.

Here's a video of Dave Moore's song, -->"Feelin' the Bern,"<-- played at the Rockin' the Bern event (but recorded in this video earlier). It ought to be the campaign's theme song!

I was one of those asked to speak, and opened the evening with energized remarks along these lines.

Rockin the Bern
Nicholas Johnson

Are you feeling the Bern?

Let's show our appreciation for those who made this evening possible: Mike Carberry, Matt Grimm, and Bernie staffers Nate Rifkin and Kate Revaux.

I've been involved in presidential campaigns since Harry Truman's victory in 1948, when my social studies teacher, John Haefner, came to class the next day displaying the Chicago Tribune page-one headline, "Dewey Defeats Truman." That was my first awareness of the role of media in the political process.

As it happened, President Truman would later be the first U.S. president that I would meet in the White House.

So my role here this evening is to provide a little historical context, and to bear witness that those my age do not hold Senator Sanders' relative youth against him. In fact, we're very impressed with how much he's learned in such a short time.

So why Bernie?

It's not that presidents since Truman have given us nothing. President Eisenhower gave the country that great socialist interstate highway system. We even have a stretch of it in Iowa City. President Kennedy started the Peace Corps. President Lyndon Johnson, for whom I worked, provided a package of civil rights and remedies. Even President Nixon created the Environmental Protection Agency. OK, so since President Reagan it's been kind of a slow slide down.

But you get my point. For 67 years I’ve been waiting for a presidential candidate who would offer us not merely a few crumbs of progressive legislation, but would turn the entire political dialog, and role of government, away from a to-get-along-go-along compromise and stalemate, dominated by major donors and their puppets. Someone who would turn our entire government and national political dialogue on all public policy issues a full 180 degrees -– to programs of, by and for the people, programs that start with service to the public rather than the 1%, programs designed to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.

That is why I responded to Senator Sanders as I have.

Of course, I like his specifics proposals: tuition-free college, paid maternity leave and child care, a full employment economy tending to our nation's infrastructure, universal single-payer healthcare, a living wage, Wall Street reform, and taking the corruption out of our current campaign finance system.

That last one is central to all the rest. And he lives it. He's running this campaign without the money from billionaires' PACs. And that's one of the reasons he, and I, encourage you to make regular monthly contributions to his campaign. Don't give more than you can afford, given your income and other demands -- even if it's no more than $5.00 a month. But the Bernie campaign needs income every month because it has expenses every month -- just like you and me. And if he's not going to get that income from the 1% then those of us in the 99% have to provide it.

But more than his specific proposals is his totally different orientation, his 180-degree reverse direction toward a government focused on what is best for all the American people. It is the very different way of thinking about government that I have been hoping for during the last 67 years.

It is so important that we keep this approach to government in our public political discussion. And that is why I urge every Iowan -- Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, Greens, Independents -– regardless of who your favorite candidate may now be, to come out and caucus for Bernie. You’ll still get to vote next November for whoever the parties’ nominees may be. But between now and those national nominating conventions next year it is in the best interest of every American in the 99% to make sure all of the presidential candidates continue to hear both his unique message and our roar of support from Iowa.

Thank you.


For additional blog essays regarding Senator Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign, see:

"Bernie!", June 1, 2015

"Bernie's Media Challenge," June 19, 2015

"Senator Bernie Sanders and America's 'Mainstream,'" July 25, 2015

Bernie Shirts August 27, 2015

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